Ex-driver for Bolsonaro’s son arrested in Brazil probe

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian authorities on Thursday arrested a man sought as part of an investigation into allegedly suspicious movements of money he made while a driver for Flávio Bolsonaro, a Brazilian senator and son of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Fabrício Queiroz was arrested as part of a joint operation between public prosecutors of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo states, the Rio prosecutors’ office said in a statement.

Images on local television showed police escorting him out of a property in Atibaia, a town in Sao Paulo’s interior. Local media reported the property belongs to Flávio Bolsonaro’s lawyer. Jandir Neto, a prosecutor involved in the case, said in a televised interview with CNN Brasil that it was a legal office, without specifying whose.

Bolsonaro’s lawyer, Frederick Wassef, didn’t respond to messages and calls from The Associated Press.

The investigation began when the government’s watchdog for financial transactions detected suspicious movements in the bank account of Queiroz, according to authorities. It is suspected the money may form part of a corruption scheme involving appropriation of salaries from phantom employees of Flávio Bolsonaro’s office while he was a lawmaker in Rio state’s legislature.

The financial regulator has said that many of the payments to Queiroz came on pay days for people on Flávio Bolsonaro’s payroll. In December, Rio prosecutors carried out searches at 24 properties, including a chocolate shop owned by Bolsonaro.

He denied any wrongdoing on Twitter, and said the operation is part of an attempt to damage his father’s administration. President Bolsonaro in October said that Queiroz, a former military police officer, had been his friend since the 1980s, but hadn’t spoken with him since the allegations surfaced.

“I face today’s events with calm. The truth will prevail! Another piece was moved on the board to attack Bolsonaro,” the younger Bolsonaro said. “The game is rough!”

Queiroz stopped working with Flávio Bolsonaro in October 2018. Paulo Marinho, a businessman and former ally of President Bolsonaro, told newspaper Folha de S.Paulo last month that Flávio Bolsonaro decided to fire Queiroz upon receiving leaked information that his aide would be targeted by an investigation.

In recent months, “Where is Queiroz?” became a rallying cry for Bolsonaro opponents who were dismayed that the former driver continued to elude authorities.

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